Philippines, New Zealand to boost maritime security ties

Robie de Guzman   •   November 11, 2021   •   419

The Philippines and New Zealand have agreed to boost maritime security cooperation and affirmed mutual support amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

In a statement, the DFA said the two nations made the agreement during the 6th Philippines-New Zealand Foreign Ministry Consultations (FMC) hosted by the Philippines on 04 November 2021.

The meeting was co-chaired by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary for Asia and Pacific Affairs, Neal Imperial with New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) South and South East Asia Division Manager Andrew Needs.

The DFA said the Philippines thanked New Zealand for its recent actions affirming the 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea, particularly New Zealand’s note verbale to the United Nations Secretary General which upheld the final and binding nature of the Arbitral Award.

The Philippines also thanked New Zealand for its support for ASEAN centrality in ensuring peace, security, and stability in the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific.

“In the three-hour meeting, both sides acknowledged the growing breadth and depth of Philippines-New Zealand bilateral cooperation, particularly in the areas of defense and security, health, trade and investments, development cooperation, people-to-people and cultural engagements,” the DFA said.

Imperial conveyed appreciation for the assistance rendered by New Zealand in helping the Philippines mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

New Zealand, for its part, highlighted its proposed initiatives on inclusion and diversity for Lumad communities in the Philippines, as well as its capacity-building projects in Davao and Bukidnon.

The DFA also said that both countries also highlighted the ongoing cooperation in the ASEAN-New Zealand dialogue mechanism, current negotiations on an enhanced ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, and New Zealand’s hosting and chairmanship of the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting.

The FMC serves as a bilateral mechanism to chart the direction of future engagement as well as review and support progress on key initiatives spanning the entire range of Philippines-New Zealand relations, it added/

The last FMC was held in Wellington in 2018.

Philippines logs 425 new COVID-19 cases

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Tuesday recorded 425 new cases of COVID-19, data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed.

The latest figure pushed the country’s total caseload to 2,832,734, the DOH said.

Around 0.6% or 15,800 of this number are active cases – 47.5% are mild, 5.3% are asymptomatic, 24.42% are moderate, 16.0% are severe, and 6.8% are in critical condition.

COVID-19 related deaths increased to 48,545 with 44 new fatalities.

Total recoveries rose to 2,768,389 after 909 more patients recovered from the viral disease.

The positivity rate was at 2.1% based on results of samples from 24,442 individuals tested on November 28.

Two accredited testing laboratories were not operational last Sunday while four others failed to submit data on time, the DOH noted.

The ICU bed utilization rate nationwide was at 26% while 25% in the National Capital Region.

Pagpapatupad ng mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, nakasalalay sa Kongreso – IATF

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Nakasalalay sa Kongreso ang pagbalangkas ng batas kung gagawing sapilitan sa bansa ang pagpapabakuna kontra COVID-19.

Ito ang naging pahayag ng Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) matapos sabihin ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na payag siyang gawing mandatory ang COVID-19 vaccination sa Pilipinas sa harap ng banta ng bagong COVID-19 variant na Omicron.

Ayon kay acting Presidential Spokesperson at Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, wala sa kapangyarihan ng IATF na pilitin ang publiko na tumanggap ng COVID-19 vaccine.

“Kailangan po ng batas, mas magiging… mas magkakaroon ng mandatory enforcement kapag meron pong batas mula sa Congress at mapirmahan ni Pangulong Duterte, so it is up to congress to feel the need kung kinakailangan magkaroon ng batas to make it mandatory,” ani Nograles.

“As far as IATF is concerned, patuloy pa rin po ang ating pagmi-meeting tungkol d’yan at paguusap namin sa proposal na yan,” dagdag pa niya.

Samantala, iiminungkahi naman ni Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año na higpitan na lamang ang mga polisiya para sa mga hindi pa bakunado upang maengganyo ang mas marami pang Pilipino na magpabakuna.

Aniya, may kapangyarihan naman ang mga alkalde na maglabas ng kautusan o ordinansa para makumbinse ang kanilang mga constituent na magpaturok na ng COVID-19 vaccine.

“Hindi natin ima-mandatory but at least, we’ll make it harder for them to live while there’s a pandemic. It’s because of mutations, kung hindi ma-achieve ang herd immunity,” ani Año. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

2.5 million vaccinated in day 1 of PH vaccination drive – DOH exec

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More than 2.5 million individuals were inoculated against COVID-19 on the first day of the government’s three-day nationwide vaccination drive, a Department of Health (DOH) official said Tuesday.

In a public briefing, DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said a total of 2,554,023 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered on Monday.

This is 2.5 times the daily average last week, she added.

Of the total doses, the biggest chunk was administered in Calabarzon, followed by Central Luzon, Western Visayas, and Bicol regions.

Cabotaje, who also chairs the National Vaccination Operations Center, noted that the only “major challenge” they encountered in the first day of the vaccination drive were reports that some walk-ins at vaccination sites were not given the shots.

“Meron pong direktiba ang ating Presidente to vaccinate everyone… We allow walks-ins. Dapat po, walang uuwi na nakapila na hindi nabakunahan,” she said.

The government on Monday kicked off its three-day vaccination campaign, dubbed as “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” program, which aims to inoculate around 9 million people.

The campaign will end on Wednesday, December 1.

The National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 earlier said the vaccination drive will only be the first leg of the program, which is focused on scaling up the inoculation rate of local government units for the first vaccine dose by covering up to 70% of their target populations.

The second leg of the vaccination event will be held from December 15 to 17, which will focus on ramping up the number of fully vaccinated individuals to achieve the government’s target of fully vaccinating at least 54 million Filipinos by year-end.

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